Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 Race Year in Review

2012 turned out to be a pretty awesome year for race results for me.

Try Charleston Half

This was my first ever half iron race.  The swim went OK for me.  Its not much longer than an oly race and it was wetsuit legal.  I was a lot faster on the bike than I thought possible.  I'm sure a lot of that has to do with the course: flat, few turns, no wind to speak of until mile 50.  Overall felt pretty good on the run, but I just didn't want to blow up in my first race this long.  5th in my age group (2nd AG bike, 5th AG run) with a 4:34.  I really liked this race and want to do it again. Its a good race to bring the family as we camped at the KOA at the start.

Tri at Baxter Sprint
This race is always a fun one for me.  It was my first ever tri back in 2010.  I keep thinking I can somehow get into the top 3 overall, but hasn't happened yet.  Sliding down into the pool to start the race is pretty cool, well unique if nothing else.  5th overall finish this year (3rd OA on bike and 3rd OA on the run).  I hadn't really been training for a fast 5K, so overall it went OK.  I guess I can't complain, since I did win my AG.

Wawasee Flotilla Road Race

This is an 8M road race up in Syracuse, IN.  I've run this old school race quite a few times.  I averaged 6:16's on this mostly flat course.  Pretty humid for the area, but it was fun, and I won my age group (7th overall).  Actually turned out to be a really good tempo run workout as well.

Stumpy Creek International
This is the second year in a row that I have done this race.  It just happens to work well on the schedule being the first weekend in August.  I had a terrible swim (no wetsuit) and found myself 11:31 behind the fastest time in my age group and 7:19 arrears of the eventual 2nd place in the AG.  I hammered the bike (first race on my FLO's) and had the fastest AG time by 4:20 (3rd OA fastest bike).  Then I had the fastest run by 2:10 to eke out the AG win by 0:42! Was great to come back and win the AG, but it really told me something about my swim.

Ironman Augusta 70.3

This was it.  My "A" race for the year (don't you just love stupid tri lingo?).  I was super nervous for this race.  The field was huge.  The competition was better than any I had been up against.  And all my training pointed to this race.  This race ended up being so much fun and so well organized.  My swim time was OK but my swim rank was incredible for me (top 1/3 in my age group).  Gotta love a current aided wetsuit swim for crappy swimmers!  Followed that up with a monster bike averaging 24.5 (2nd in AG) and didn't die on the run: 6:31 avg (2nd in AG).   It felt great to "earn" my Las Vegas 70.3 World Championships slot.  I didn't rely on roll down at all.  4 slots in my AG and I finished 3rd (out of 412) with a 4:13:57.  The rolling hills course and flat run played into my favor as well.

Rev3 Florida
We planned a mini vacation around this race, as it was all fun for me.  We hit Legoland on the way down and Universal Studios on the way back up.  The weather was nice except for the super strong winds caused by Hurricane Sandy.  They ended up cancelling the swim.  The bike course was great: flat, good roads and scenic.  Too bad it was so windy.  I averaged about 27 mph in the first half and then 22 mph in the second half.  I didn't do so well on the run, but still won my age group.  It was definitely a fun way to end the season.

So I won my age group in 4 of the 6 races, plus finishing in the top 1% at IM Augusta. Really couldn't be happier about my results for the year.  I raced a little less this year, which helps keep the training more consistent.  I like doing the 2 races near the end of the year to try and take advantage of the fitness level I was at.  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Goals: 2012 Review and 2013 New

So ya gotta have goals, right?  Most people say triathlete's goals are too lofty.  But why make a goal if it's easy to reach?  I mean if it's too easy there isn't much motivation to train to try and achieve that goal. I always found in college that goals definitely helped motivate you throughout the season.  So lets see how we stacked up.

2012 Goals Revisited
1. Swim sub 35:00 for 1.2 miles (HIM).
Made It! Of course I kinda cheated (a lot) by making this goal at Ironman Augusta with the the downriver wetsuit swim.

2. Swim 352,000 yards for the year (200 miles).
Well I didn't quite make this one.  That's how much I swam in 2011, but this year, I kinda tailed off and tried to work on speed (like I said, tried) and not worry about volume so much.  Its not like I slacked off entirely, I'll be over 320,000 yards at year end.

3. Bike sub 2:26 for 56M (23.0 avg)
Biked faster than this in all 3 half races I did.  It seemed fast at the time I wrote down the goal, but with the training, aero helmet, and race wheels, I got up to a 24.5 avg.

4. Bike 4,000 miles.
Smashed this one as I will have over 5,000 miles at year's end.

5. Run sub 1:25 for 13.1M (6:29 pace)
Almost got it as I ran 1:25:19 at Augusta for a 6:30.5 average

6. Run 1,500 miles for the year
Did not come close, as I really scaled back the mileage due to the bursitis in my hip from the Charlotte Maration.

7. Top 6 AG at IM Augusta and qualify for Las Vegas 70.3 Worlds
Nailed this with a 3rd in my AG and a Vegas Slot

8. Top 3 AG at Rev3 Florida
Also nailed this, with a 6th OA and won the age group.  Cancelled swim helped with that.

So all in all pretty good.  Just about got all my time goals, and got my race finish goals.  Didn't make the training goals, but that doesn't really matter if I'm making my time and race goals, right?

2013 Goals Training
1. Swim 300K for the year
Scale back a little bit to focus on form and speed (hey that's what the coach said!)

2. Bike 4,500 miles for the year
A little less, as I think I won't bike as much due to the Marathon Training

3. Run 1,500 miles for the year
A little more because of the Marathon training.

2013 Goals Time
1. Swim sub 30:00 for 1.2 miles
I would really like to nail this at Vegas or Rev3

2. Bike
I would really like to bike a sub 2:15 half, but I don't think the Vegas or Anderson courses are conducive to that. I'll come up with race specific goals as the time nears.

3. Run
I would like to run a 1:23:xx half, but again, not sure the courses I'm going to run will allow that.

2013 Goals Racing

1. Boston Marathon
Focus here is to have fun, enjoy the experience and not destroy my hip and ruin my training for Vegas.  So I'm shooting for 8 minute miles and a 3:30 finish

2. Ironman Las Vegas 70.3 World Championships
I'd really like to go Top 10 in my age group.  Not sure how it will go, as it is a much tougher course than I have ever done.  There were about 200 finishers in my AG at last years race, so top 10% would be good as well.

3. Rev3 SC (USAT Long Course National Championships)
Looking at a Top 5, and preferably Top 3 age group finish.  I'll be interested to see what the competition will be like.  In the past, this race wasn't as competitive as an IM 70.3 race, but with the USAT LC Nats, I'm not sure how it will pan out.  When Myrtle Beach used to host Long Course Nats, it was pretty competitive.

So now everything is written down.  I feel pretty good about the coming year.  I think my hip has finally gotten straightened out.  I'm excited about having a little bit more run base heading into the season for some hard training for Vegas.  I also hope to get my bike more aero, and of course work on the engine.  I believe it was Greg Lemond who said "It doesn't get easier, you just get faster".

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Of a Hiatus and Swim Lessons

I had a goal to take the entire month of November off.  No workouts.  No physical activity of any kind except lifting beers, mass quantities of beers.  I had a couple of little nagging sore spots (I wouldn't use the term injuries) on my legs and feet that I wanted to completely heal up.  Mostly I just wanted to make sure I got enough of a mental and physical break before starting off the training for 2013.  With Boston in April and Las Vegas in September, it will be a pretty intense year.  I wanted to make sure I got back in the mindset of wanting to train.

I thought that it would take the full month, but 3 weeks in, I got pretty ancy.  I broke down over Thanksgiving weekend and went for a ride.  It was 65 and sunny, how could I resist?  Then I jumped in the pool on Monday and went for a run on Tuesday.  So I had 26 days off from Biking, 30 days off from Running, and 32 days off from Swimming.  The few extra days off from swimming were due to the swim being cancelled at Rev3 Florida.

So what really got me to break my November goal was a swim lesson.  I finally got a swim lesson setup and it was for that last week in November.  I didn't want to jump into the pool at the lesson having not swam for a month, so I swam on Monday and Wednesday.  Then I thought well if I'm gonna swim on Monday, I might as well bike on Saturday and Sunday.  Then I thought well if I'm biking on the weekend, swimming on Mon/Wed, why not go for a run on Tuesday and Thursday? Right?  So its really not my fault!

I have vaguely alluded to my troubles trying to find a good swim coach in some of my past posts.  I had a couple of lessons from the local YMCA guy (he was a no show on the first try).  It was helpful in the beginning, but when I got to the point that it looked like I wasn't going to drown, he really couldn't help me out anymore.  I had email contact with 2 coaches in Charlotte.  After a few emails about price, schedule, and me wanting to go ahead, I never heard from them again.  (I will withhold names to protect the guilty.)  So I really had my sights set on getting some real coaching from someone with a swimming background, but also coaches triathletes (or people who are bad at swimming).

On one visit to IOS I chatted up James and Melissa about how much I stunk at swimming.  This was right after my Augusta race which went incredible for me.  Obviously the current aided wetsuit swim helped a lot in that.  But if we take a deeper look at the numbers at say, Stumpy Creek, we see that I was 37th of 55 on the swim (67th percentile) in my age group.  Now compare that to my bike and run.  I had the fastest run in my age group by over 2 minutes and the fastest bike by over 4 minutes.  That's pretty pathetic swimming.

They suggested jumping in with the Masters Group that swims on Tuesdays and Thursdays (I think) at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center (MCAC).  I didn't really feel comfortable with that.  I really thought I needed some one-on-one coaching.  I mean someone to watch me swim in the pool and say, "Wow.  You truly are one of the worst swimmers I have seen in my entire life".  Or something to that effect.  As I went to checkout at IOS they had some business cards there and I picked up several and checked them out later.

I happened to pick up the card of Melinda Yelton.  Trijinx is the name of her coaching company.  She was very quick to respond to all my emails, and I believe she has reasonable pricing.  Her swimming credentials are actually quite impressive, I think.  So we setup a lesson at the MCAC of all places.  I had never been before, but its right on the way to work, which actually is better than Charlotte Christian or the Rock Hill Aquatic Center.  Plus I didn't have to pay a daily fee since I was getting a lesson.

The lesson went pretty well, I thought.  She said my body position actually wasn't bad, but I was a really bad "windmiller" she called it.  We went through several drills, which I will not go into any detail here as I will invoke client/coach privilege (as in pay for your own lesson if you want to know!)  The follow up email she sent with the evaluation and drills was quite thorough.  She included video links on my stroke and demonstrations of all the drills.

So now its up to me to hammer the drills for a while.  It will probably be at least mid January when I go back for another session.  I want to make sure I have all the drills down.  But it looks very promising, I will say.  In just a one hour she got my stroke count down from 27 all the way to 17 and it took the exact same amount of time!  That's efficiency.  And that is a good place to start.  The speed will come.  I have time since my "A" race isn't for another 9 months.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rev3 Vs. WTC

It's the great debate, is it not?  Who do you like better?  Who puts on a better race?  A few people have asked me about the merits of each, so I decided to put some thoughts down on the topic.  Granted, I have only done two Rev3 races (only 1 half) and only a single WTC or Ironman Brand race.  I will also do one of each in 2013.  But I did do a half from each company in the span of 4 weeks.  So lets break it down by the tale of the tape, shall we?

Both races were extremely well organized.  Rev3 had to do a little more "on the fly" stuff with the winds preventing bike check on Saturday and cancelling the swim on Sunday.  Ironman was setup to easily handle the 3,000 that were registered at check in at the Marriott.  Rev3 only had to handle 500, but it was smooth as well.
Winner: Slight WTC

Pretty similar.  Augusta was $275 and Florida was $250.  Rev3 did do an early bird for $215.  No early pricing was availible for Augusta even though most races top out at $250 and some race early bird is $199.  But if you have a race that sells out even when you have 3,335 spots, why would you offer a reduced price?
Winner: Tie

Big Time Feel
I have to give the nod to WTC here.  With the sheer event size, people taking all kinds of pictures at transition, and all the stuff being sold at the expo, you knew it was a big race.  I saw many people biking in their "Ironman 70.3 Augusta" bike kits, which is hilarious, but makes you understand how important it was for people.  Rev3 has a great big event/laid back atmosphere however that I do like.  WTC also has the qualification for their "World Championship" race in Las Vegas.
Winner: WTC

Rev3: Long Sleeve Finisher shirt, Finisher Medal, AG Award Medal, cheap sling bag, BlueSeventy Goggles, Headsweats Visor, and free 2013 entry for winning your AG.  WTC: Tech T-shirt (no sponsor logos), Finisher Medal, AG award plaque, nice sling bag, timing chip strap.  The easy winner here is Rev3

Rev3: 500, WTC: 3,000.  Depends on what you like, but 500 is a great number.  Not so small that you get on the bike course and you are by yourself, but not too big that you spend the first 30 miles trying to get some room to breathe.
Winner: Slight Rev3

Gotta like the Rev3 bike racks.  Plenty of room and you feel like a pro. WTC stuffed us in transition like sardines.  If the guy next to me had shown up, I would have been in trouble.
Winner: Rev3

Race Management
No issues with either.  Courses both marked well and with volunteers at turns.  Plenty of volunteers and aid stations on the run.
Winner: Tie

Race Results/Timing
WTC definitely gets the results posted asap.  They have some of the rankings within you AG screwed up, but nice results.  Rev3 took several days to get all the split timing straight on their website
Winner: WTC

Ironman had a ton of pics to look at from Finisherpix.  Like 3 or 4 times as many as I'm used to seeing. Rev3 had some decent ones, but they give you a free finisher pic, and its like 20 mp!
Winner: Slight Rev3

Family Friendly
Easily Rev3 here.  WTC is more strict on the rules and such. Rev3 lets your family run down the chute with you.  Rev3 also has stuff for the kids to do on Saturday and Sunday.
Winner: Rev3

So I scored it a slight edge to Rev3.  It really depends on what you want.  You want a big race, with a big time feel and the potential to qualify for a championship?  You want Ironman.  You want a big time race that is a little more laid back and something the family will enjoy and want to do again?  You want Rev3.

I may revisit this next year after I do Ironman 70.3 Las Vegas in September and then Rev3 South Carolina in October.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Rev3 Florida Race Report

It was finally here.  The last race of the season.  The idea for doing this race actually began with my wife wanting to do a trip to Florida to goto Harry Potter World at Universal in Orlando.  We like to take our Florida trips in the fall, so when Rev3 announced this race, I suggested we wrap this all up in one trip.  Then the school calendar came out and the kids were scheduled to be off that Friday.  So it was settled.  After Augusta, I was looking forward to a little vacay and a fun race on a flat course (and my first ocean swim).

We decided to drive down to Jacksonville as soon as the kids got home from school.  It worked out well as we made it a few miles past downtown and found a cheap Red Roof Inn and just parked the camper in the parking lot.
Green Lightning's first trip on the outside the Explorer!

Green Lightning's first night in a hotel room!
Grabbed some breakfast at McDonalds and drove about 3 hours and spent the day at LegoLand in Winter Haven.  This was my 8 year old's favorite part of the trip.  We all had a good time.  We left before 5pm and headed down to the KOA in Venice.  The campground is on Hwy 41, right on the bike course.  We were setup in our site before 8pm.

The boys were excited!

KOA Myakka River, right on the Bike course on Hwy 41
We all slept in and had a leisurely morning.  I went for a short 2 mile run and we headed to the beach late that morning.  When we got to the race site, the parking person told us we would not be checking the bikes.  When we got out of the car we realized why.  It was crazy windy.  Even though Hurricane Sandy was up near Georgia at the time, the winds down here were really bad.  So we checked in and got my chip.  We went for a walk out on the pier, then grabbed some lunch on the way back to the campsite at Applebees.  Again, we had a leisurely afternoon.  I got my bike all setup for the race.  The boys played and even swam in the pool.

Packet Pickup

Chip Pickup and Jumbotron Picture

The sea was angry

The Wind was howling

Very Choppy
 For the swag, we got a Headsweats visor (just like at Rev3 SC last year), a nice pair of Blue Seventy goggles, and a cheap sling bag (the type I usually throw out).  No t-shirt, but I figured we get a finisher's shirt.  And the Rev3 race tats in lieu of body marking.  They go on easy and look great.  Getting them off is a PITA, but not something you worry about until the race is over.

Prerace Swag

Locked, Cocked, and Ready to Rock!
Sunday (Race Day)
Woke up at 5:30 am and it didn't seem too windy.  But we were 10 miles from the ocean.  My wife dropped me off at the race site.  As soon as I got out of the car, I got blasted by the crazy wind again.  As I made my way over to transition I could kinda hear a race announcement over the PA system.  I didn't catch it all, but did hear that the swim was cancelled.  I kinda felt neutral about it.  I had been excited about swimming in the ocean, but I was actually concerned about doing a swim in those rough waters without the wetsuit.  Plus I stink at swimming, so skipping the swim could only help my place.

I put my bike in the bike rack, but it was still being blown all over the place, so I set my bags by my front wheel to help it stay still.  A few minutes later, I caught the full announcement.  We would start time trial style at the entrance to the transition.  It would be like we were coming out of the water.   They said we would start at 8:35am.  My wave was supposed to go into the water at 8:05, so the timing of the finish would be about the same.
Almost Ready to Roll

Transition really wasn't that big

The Pros started earlier with a 1.5 mile run.  All of us were lined up to watch them go by.  It was pretty cool to see every single pro run by like a road race.   We all cheered like crazy.  Then we lined up by bib number and they began sending us into transition about every 2 seconds.

T1 Officially 0:48,    8 / 40 AG, 99 / 209 Overall Men
When it was my turn to go, I ran fairly hard.  Not too fast because my bare feet couldn't take too much on the sea shell pavement.  Obviously a quick transition as you had nothing to take off and I was not disorientated from the water.

Bike  2:17:40 (24.5 mph)  2 / 40 AG, 8 / 209 OAL
So everyone knew the first 25 miles would be crazy fast due to the wind direction.  It wasn't as fast as I thought due to some of the crosswinds on Manasota Key.  Still, I hit 25 miles in 53:30.3 (28.0 mph!), including a 5M stretch on McCall Road at 30.4 mph.  The wind wasn't bad on the next 5M which I averaged 23.9 mph.

Then I hit it.  As I turned up Biscayne Drive it was bad.  It really blew you back at times.  You'd try to crank it, but sometimes you'd look down and you were going 19 mph.  So from 30 to 55 miles I averaged 22.0 mph which I didn't think at the time was too bad.  Looking at the results, however, I really lost some time to the top guys in the last 25 mile stretch.  Still I felt pretty good to average 24.5 in that wind.  As an added bonus, coming down Hwy 41, my wife and kids just happened to pull out of the campground when I was going by.  It was fun and gave me an added boost through that windy stretch.

T2 Officially 0:56
My dismount was flawless, but I always have a little slow T2 as I put socks on for the run.

Run 1:26:33; 2 / 40 AG, 6 / 209 OAL
My Garmin had 12.70 miles and a 6:49 average (taking out the 45 seconds that ran off when I forgot to stop my watch at the end).  I would have liked to average 6:36's as if it was truly 13.1M, but I trust my 910 more than mile markers.  I tore out of T2 too fast.  I ran 6:13 the first mile (just like Augusta), but unfortunately it didn't last.

I was pretty tired from the wind.  The cement on most of the course didn't help either.  Then the sun came out and it got hot.  Let's see, any more excuses?  Oh yeah, the motivation just wasn't there.  Got into my 'comfort zone' running 6:50 to 6:55's and just felt like sitting there.   Definitely a lack of motivation during the run.  But my goal was to enjoy this race.  The last mile was tough, as it felt like it was straight into the wind.

As I got to the finish line, I let the guy behind me go ahead and had my two kids jump out onto the course with me to go down the finish chute.  It was pretty fun.  We put on the "Gun Show" at the end as well.

Finish 3:45:55,  2 / 40 AG,  6 / 209 Overall
After the finish, my left leg cramped up like crazy.  Basically everytime I moved.  Sat down, chugged some water and felt better.  I went over and got a massage and then some food.  Loved the rice and bread.  Even had a beer (we got 2 for free).

So I "Won" my age group as the top Male 40-44 was second overall and got a Top 3 Award.  I was really happy with that and pleased with my overall 6th place finish.  I thought I might do better overall, but my run wasn't there today.  Full Results HERE.
Finish Chute

Athlete Food

Free Beer
My goal at the beginning of the year was top 3 AG at this race.  So with the cancelled swim I was pleased to "win" my age group.  For winning the AG, I got a box of Powerbar chews, a special medal with 1st place AG on it, but best of all a FREE entry to a Rev3 Half race in 2013!  That's pretty sweet.

Finisher Shirt Front

Finisher Shirt Back

AG award Medal and finisher Medal

All Rev3 award and finisher medals snap together

So I had been planning on doing Beach to Battleship Half to end the 2013 season, but instead I think I'll do Rev3 SC in Anderson.  Especially since they are hosting the USAT Long Course Nationals next year (which I qualified for at Augusta on time).

After the awards we headed up to Orlando.  We stopped by "Gecko's", a little local place and grabbed some food.  I had a Blue Moon beer, which was awesome!  We got up to Orlando and setup at the Tropical Palms Campground before 8pm.

We got motorvated around 8:15am and headed up to Universal Islands of Adventure.  So if Legoland was for my 8 yr old, and the race was for me, then Universal was for my wife and my 11 yr old son.  They loved "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter".  It was cool (and I could care less about Harry Potter).  Seuss Land was really neat as well.  We ended the day at Golden Corral for a "feast" as my son called it.
The "Wizarding World of Harry Potter"

Got up.  Packed up.  Drove 530 miles back home.  Got home around 5:30pm, exhausted, but satisfied with a great trip!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

It's All in the Bank

Just put the finishing touches on my final hard week of the year.  Felt pretty tired near the end.  Glad that I have two weeks until Rev3 Florida.

2 Swims, 5,600 yards, 2:06
Not much swimming this week (or last week for that matter).  Pool was closed Monday due to "chemical imbalance".  When I got back in the pool on Wednesday, I had only one swim in the previous 10 days before that.  Felt quite slow Wednesday and Friday.  I will definitely be doing some hard swims during the next week and a half.

4 Rides, 164.9 miles, 7:33, 21.8 overall average
Had a great tempo ride on Friday where I averaged 24.5 for the whole 41 mile ride.  It had me pretty wore out the very next morning as I could only average 20.6 on my 50 miler.  It was cool (about 50 degrees) and windy, in my defense.  I had a good effort on the Sunday morning interval session out to the airport and back.  10 x 5 min, with 3 min rest.

4 Runs, 40 miles, 4:39
Long run went ok (13M on Tuesday).  Felt a little flat on the intervals on Thursday, but felt good on Saturday (6 miler).  Was really hurting for the tempo run Sunday afternoon.  I did manage 7 miles at a 6:26 pace, but my legs just weren't there.

3 Lifts, 1 hr

10 SBR workouts, 208.1 miles, 15:19
Really need some rest.  Need to get my legs back, but I do have 2 weeks, so I believe I'll be ok.  I'll shorten everything up this week, but still throw some tempo and interval workouts in there.  Race week I won't do any tempos or intervals, and try to give my old legs some full recovery.  On the other hand, I really need to get some hard swims in.   This week will be a hard swim week.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ironman Augusta 70.3 Race Report

This was my "A" race for the year.  The entire last 9 months of training was pointed towards this race.  Augusta was all business for me.  Looking at last year's results I thought I could make the top 5 in my old man age group, 40-44.  A current aided wetsuit swim is just my race.  A guy from Charlotte biked 2:18 here last year and I just beat him on the bike split of an olympic race last month. Since I'm first and foremost a runner, I thought 6:30's were attainable.  So I felt pretty good I could nail top 5 AG finish and a Vegas Slot. 

Started taking it a little easier about 9-10 days out.  The last weekend before the race, I cut my rides down to 20-30 miles and my runs down to 4-5 miles.  Still had some good intensity on Friday and Saturday.  But starting that Sunday, I didn't do any tempo or interval workouts on the bike or run.  I did workout every day of race week.  Just once a day, though.  Went swim, run, bike, swim, run.  The last run just being a 2 miler.  I still swam hard that last week, but not as much yardage, just 2,100 on Monday and 1,600 on Wednesday.  From my previous races, I've found I needed more time to rest the legs before the race (but I don't need as much swim rest).

Headed out as soon as the kids got out of school.  Took us about 3 hours to get all the way to the campground including a stop at Subway along the way.  We stayed at Wildwood Campground, about 20 miles north out on Washington Road.  It took 30-45 minutes to get to downtown Augusta depending on the traffic.  Setup Camp and made a fire.

We all slept in, and had a lazy morning.  Took a shower and headed downtown a little after 10am.  I'd heard nightmares about checkin taking an hour, so I wanted to get going.  Parked at the garage across the street from the Marriott and proceeded to checkin.  Went upstairs in the main lobby and got in line.  There were only about 6 people ahead of me.  They had a guy at the front of the line directing people.  You had to go through 5 different stations to get everything.  It was all unbelievably well organized and smooth.  The volunteers at each station knew exactly what to do.  They didn't know much about anything else, but knew their task well.  At the end you had to go through the Ironman gift shop to get out.  Just like every museum and amusement park ride!

We then proceeded down to T1, after paying our $1 parking fee. It was a little chaotic down there with all the cars trying to find a spot on the road, but not too bad.  Really not any different than Rev3 SC last year.  It was kinda nice that you pulled through that road one way and didn't have to fight traffic on the way out.  I affixed my bike sticker around the seat tube so as to be more aerodynamic!  I then pumped my tires up a little bit to roll the bike over to transition.  I had let air out of them for the ride down.  There really wasn't any more to do since I would bring everything else in the morning to set up transition, so I walked back to the car.  When I get back, my wife was like, some lady said you should let the air out of your tire so the tubes don't blow in the heat.  It was hot, so I hiked back down to the bike and let some air out.  I heard a lot of other people doing the same.

Green Lightning.  Ready to Hammer.

That's how far I had to run to get to Bike Out

We headed out.  Stopped by TGI Fridays for lunch and then back to the campsite for an uneventful afternoon.  I organized all my stuff.  Checked out the swag.  Then packed everything for the morning.  The nerves were about to kill me.  The kids played on the lakefront beach and my wife read and took a nap.

Playing in the fire never gets old.

Sunday (Race Day)
Woke up at 3:50am.  I was going to get up at 4am, but I had been so nervous on Satuday I decided an extra 10 minutes would calm my nerves.  Grabbed my food and water and headed back down to the Marriott parking garage.  Ate a bagel on the way.  Got there about 4:40am and caught (I think) the 2nd bus down to transition.  I was in an earlier wave (8:04am) so I wanted to get ahead of everyone.

Once in transition, I was delighted to see that the guy next to me didn't show.  So now I actually had a 'normal' amount of transition space.  They really pack them in there.  They had 3,345 registered, but only about 2,900 show up.  Seems like a high number of no-shows, but more money for WTC, I guess.

I put my number bib on my handle bars so I wouldn't forget it.  This is the first race where I had to wear my number on the bike.  Put my helmet on top of that off to the side, and put my shot bloks and sunglasses in there as well.  Covered my run shoes and helmet with a plastic bag in case it rained.  Forecast called for rain all day, but at this moment, all I could see were the stars and the moon.

I walked around and checked everything out and ate another bagel and a couple of fig newtons.  Finally decided to hop on the bus up to the swim start.  Once there I still had well over an hour. It was a little chilly, but ok.  I ate a couple of more bananas and felt much calmer.  I guess I as really nervous about the logistics, and once I had my gear setup and all the running around out of the way I could relax.  I got my wetsuit on, dropped my morning clothes bag and headed over to the swim wave corral.

I still had more than 20 minutes.  They had volunteers standing there with signs for your wave number and swim cap color.  It really helped with the organization.  I was in wave #9.  The last of 3 waves for Male 40-44.  They said they had 506 of us registered.  It wasn't long before we got the go ahead to go down on the dock.

Swim 27:48, 139/412 AG, 583/1900 OA (male non-pro) 1900 is approximate (2,200 registered)
My goal on the swim was 27 minutes (my whisper was 25 minutes).  The current was pretty good.  Enough that you had to work to stay on the starting line before the gun sounded.  At the gun, I hit the start on my Garmin, and I was off.  I wanted to start hard and see how long I could go.  Not long evidently.  About 200 yards in I had a massive panic attack.  I couldn't breathe, couldn't put my face in the water, couldn't swim.  I treaded water for about 30 seconds while all these thoughts raced through my head.  Like, I wouldn't even be able to finish the race.  I hate swimming.  I'm never doing another triathlon again.  You know, stuff like that.  I finally started to calm down, and luckily floating down the Savannah river is probably faster than I can normally swim anyways.  I started back at it, breathing every stroke at first, thinking, well there goes the Vegas Slot.  Then I got back into my normal breathing pattern and tried to push it.  I felt like I was probably half way when I saw the flags for the finish.  They never looked so beautiful!
The run up alongside transition.  Strippers on the right.

When I got up on the ramp and looked at my Garmin it was 27 something.  I felt a wave of relief.  I was still in contention.  Yeah I'm behind everyone and their brother (5:23 behind #1 in my AG), but that's pretty normal for me.  My Garmin had 27:48 and 1.22 miles.

T1 3:04
Ran hard up the hill and around transition.  Must have passed 20 people.  Used the wetsuit strippers and off to the bike I went.

Bike 2:16:13 (24.5 mph) 2/412 AG, 19/1900 OA
My goal on the bike was sub 2:20 (my whisper was 2:17).  Had my shoes on the bike which really helped in transition since I had to take my bike almost all the way through transition because I had a spot on the far side.  Got on my bike, and got my feet in pretty easy.  Once we got out on Sandbar Ferry Road, holy crap were there a lot of people!  I can't imagine being in a later wave.  It was packed all the way through mile 25 or 30.  I drank my maltodextrin mix every 5 miles or whenever I felt like it.  I hit a shot blok every 30 minutes or so.

I knew the first 17 miles were relatively flat, so I just tried to hammer them.  Hit 17 miles with about a 25.3 avg. Then 17 to 40 were the hills.  Lots of blocking going on.  Had to pass 3 wide (4 wide once or twice).  Just a small piece of advice here.  If you are riding a Cervelo, get your freakin' two wheels to the right side of the road!  Holy crap, yeah I know you're doing an Ironman 70.3 and you ride a Cervelo.  Yup you're a BAMF.  Just get out of my way when I get ready to pass you, ok?  I got hoarse from yellin "On your Left" all day.  [Rant Off]. 

I averaged 23.4 mph through that hilly stretch.  I felt ok, not great.  Took some water at the aid station around mile 37.  They had it on a good spot on a slight uphill.  Then I tried to hammer it home.  Averaged 25.5 from 40 miles on in. Tried to pee on the cloverleaf ramp around mile 50, but didn't get much out.  Slipped out of my shoes and my dismount was flawless.  My Garmin had me at 2:15:56 for 55.43 miles, so a 24.5 average.  Felt pretty psyched because I made up all the time I lost in the swim and then some.  Didn't know it at the time but I made my way up from 139th to 3rd on the bike alone.

T2 1:33
Went down the right row of racks, but missed my spot.  Panicked for second, but I was only 3 feet away from where I should have been.  Sat down, put my socks on and away I went.  As I came to the transition exit, I looked at the multisport time on my Garmin.  It read 2:48 (didn't display seconds).  So I knew if I could hold onto the run I would go sub 4:15.

Run 1:25:19 (6:31 avg) 2/412 AG, 12/1900 OA
My goal was 1:25 (my whisper was 1:23).  When I first got going, my left arch and my left quad were hurting.  Luckily the pain just kinda went away.  Felt good in the beginning.  Averaged 6:19's the first 3 miles, but it felt easy.  Like I wasn't pushing at all.  So I fell into a pace and averaged 6:33's for miles 4 to 9.  The clouds kept the sun out and the weather was perfect.  I felt some hunger twinges a couple of times.  So I ended up taking 2 shot bloks during the run, which helped a lot.  After mile 9, I started to feel it.  I had to really work miles 10, 11, and 12.  Averaged 6:44's for those miles.  It got tough at that point in the race.  Kept telling myself 3 miles to go, 2.5 miles to go, 2 miles to go . . . Then when the Mile 12 marker came up, I just tried to push for the finish.  Ran the last mile in 6:13 for a strong finish. 

Finish 4:13:57,  3/412 AG, 10/1900 OA Male Non-Pro
When I saw the 4:13 on my watch, I knew I had done it.  Even though I had no idea what anyone else had done (or even how many Vegas slots were in my AG), I was confident.  In the finish chute I stopped so they could take my timing chip.  Then when I went to walk, I ended up taking 3 steps back.  The volunteer asked if I needed medical.  I thought, no way!  I just needed to sit down and drink some water.  I was a little dehydrated. 

After a few minutes I found my family.  My son got online with his Kindle and found out that I was 3rd in my age group. Yes!  It felt awesome.  I was going to the World Championships in Las Vegas!  I got a massage and some pizza and felt euphoric.  The free beer really didn't sound good, so I skipped that.  We headed over to Beamies on Reynolds Street for some food.  I had a black and bleu burger that tasted awesome.  Don't really know if it was good or not, but it was one of best tasting meals I ever had.

After that, the family headed back home.  I hung around the finish line until about 2:15 and wandered over to the stage to check out the Vegas registration situation.  A volunteer had the official World Championship slot allocation sheet.  My age group had 4 slots allocated.  I believe M35-39 also had 4, but everyone else had less.  Feeling better.  A few minutes later, she was handed the official results.  I got to sneak a peak and saw that I was officially 3rd in the AG!  Started shooting out some texts at that point!  So right at 2:30 I went up on the stage and registered.  I'm not sure what is more sore: my legs or my credit card.  $375 on the spot for a race that will take place in 49 weeks.  I couldn't care less.  Got my award and headed over my car and dropped my stuff off.  Grabbed a bus back down to transition to get my gear loaded up.  Just as I was walking to transiton, the heavens opened up.  Rained like crazy as I rode my bike back up the car.  At least I was parked in a garage, covered from the rain.  I highly recommend that parking garage on Reynolds.  They open up at 4:30am. Its a block from the buses, and a block from the finish.  It only cost $7 for the entire day on Sunday.

The boys and a purple fountain.

Broad Street

I feel Good! (James Brown, get it?)

Post Race at the Commons

The Hardware

All in all, an incredible experience.  I don't think the race could be run any better.  3,000 people is a ginormous number for a tri.  Cool T-shirt in that it doesn't have a bunch of sponsor logos on the back.  Nice headsweats IM Augusta logo hat at the finish.  Also got to keep the timing strap.  I know its a little thing, but I needed one. 

It feels awesome to set your sights on something and then execute it almost perfectly (after the first 200 yards of the swim that is).  Looking forward to Rev3 Florida in 4 weeks as my goal for that race is to have fun.  Next year will be a sweet race schedule with the Boston Marathon, Las Vegas 70.3 Worlds, and then some fun with the Beach to Battleship Half!